Thursday 14 July 2011

The Dead School

Forthcoming from NYRB, The Letter Killers Club, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (about whose amazing Memories of the Future I wrote here):

I don't know who took the photo on the cover, but I recognise what it's a photo of: a school in Pripyat, a city abandoned when the area was contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986. See these other photos of the same schoolroom:

Abandoned school in Pripyat' / Chernobyl


Pripyat, Chernobyl

Visit those three flickr albums above for more amazing and creepy photos from the abandoned city. As you might imagine from my obsession with nuclear disaster, I can't stop thinking about these pictures.


Jonathan Walker said...

A lesson in photography here. The subject is very strong, so you can't really go wrong, but the image on the book cover is superior to the samples below in every respect: cropping (although it may have been reframed for the cover of course), colour balance, exposure (look at the trees outside the window), and a coherent relationship between foreground and background.

Meytal Radzinski said...

I have to say that I think the cover technically looks a lot better than the original photos, but it loses some of the creepy shock effect. It's somewhat ambiguous when cropped like that if you don't recognize the photo... Great coloring, though - that's the kind of cover that would draw me in.

Craig D. said...

Holy shit, it's Silent Hill.

KrupKrup said...

NYRB has done some excellent work lately with their covers :)
Just discovered your blog...excellent review.

Matthew Adams said...

Im a bit obsessed with pripyat at the moment (due to playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which is very loosely based on the movie Stalker, and the book Roadside Picnic). I have also had a long time obsession with nuclear disaster, due to Mad Max movies, and my family camping yearly at Glen Davies which is an old abandonded mining town in NSW full of deserted buildings and cars slowly being taken over by beautiful bushland. Wonder if it is a part of our generation to obsess over this stuff?

JRSM said...

Thank you, all. Jonathan and Biblibio, that's all very true. A testament to the eye of Katie Holmans, who designs all of the NYRB covers (so that's who we have to thank, KrupKrup).

Matthew: I suspect it is. I remember, in primary school, being part of a survey about kids' greatest fears, and nuclear war won by a mile. This was in 1984. That sort of thing stays with you.